What To Expect When You’re Expecting a Beer Show

With the ADI 2015 Spirits Conference Vendor Expo kicking off today, and the Craft Brewers Conference just around the corner, we wanted to re-post our blog from last year, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Beer Show’, to help give you a resource to prepare for any upcoming brewing tradeshow you’re heading too.

Be sure to visit MBEC at the ADI 2015 Spirits Conference Vendor expo today and tomorrow at Booth 534, and the Craft Brewers Conference April 15-17th at Booth 1801!

Minnetonka Brewing and Equipment Company

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In one week thousands of craft beer breweries, businesses, and fans will flock to Denver, CO for the annual Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America™. This is a must go to event for pretty much anyone associated with the craft beer industry, especially for emerging breweries.

Now, as exciting as craft shows can be, and especially the Craft Brewers Conference, it can also be quite overwhelming for first time goers. Where should I start? What should I focus on? Your mind can feel pulled in a million directions the second you walk into the convention center. SO, have no fear, MBEC is here!

We are here to provide 5 key points to help anyone, not just new comers, on how to navigate the Craft Brewers Conference!

Plan a Schedule

There are a lot of amazing panels to attend, as well as a large floor of vendors to see, so making…

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On the Horizon: MBEC Conference Appearances!

Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company is excited to announce our upcoming industry conference appearances!

We are going to be busy in the next couple months with two big upcoming expos in both the Craft Brewing and Craft Distilling worlds.  We are going to be showcasing our equipment, handing out our company shot glasses, and have our expert staff on hand to answer questions about all the equipment and services we provide.

Wondering where we will be and where you can find us? Read ahead to find out full info on the conferences we are attending and where you can go to register to come see us!


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2015 Craft Spirits Conference & Vendor Expo

We are quite delighted to announce that we will be an exhibitor at the American Distilling Institute Craft Spirits Conference & Vendor Expo for the first time this year!

The conference is going to be held in Louisville, KY at the end of the month, running March 30 – April 2 – with the Conference and Expo being held on March 31st & April 1st.

Along with the expo, there will be workshops and distillery tours, breakout sessions and a fabulous gala, and this is a great conference to attend for any within the craft distilling industry.

We will be located at Booth 534, so be sure to come visit us!

Conference Information 

Register for the Conference


cbc15email2015 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America 

We are excited to be returning to the Brewers Association’s Craft Brewers Conference again this year! We have had a fabulous time at this conference at our last appearances, and cannot wait to return!

This years conference is being held in Portland, OR at the Oregon Convention Center April 14-17.  The BrewExpo America, which is where we are exhibiting, will be running April 15-17 – with this year adding an extra half day of the expo!

The Craft Brewers Conference and BrewExpo America is a leading conference within the Craft Brewing industry, and is a great resource (and good time) for all associated with craft brewing.

We will be at Booth 1801, so be sure to sign up and head to the show to come talk to us about how we serve craft breweries and distilleries!

Conference Information 

Conference Registration


We cannot wait to meet and greet with everyone, so see you at either the Spirits Conference or the Craft Brewers Conference (or Both!)

Cheers!

Hello 2015! New Year’s Beer Resolutions

BEER_RESOLUTIONS

Hello, and welcome to 2015!  

First off, 2014 was great. MBEC had a fantastic year full of new customers, fun with existing customers, product updates, and all around craft beer adventures.  We can’t thank everyone enough for being so fabulous and supportive, we appreciate everyone and all who were apart of the amazing journey that was 2014.  But let’s not look back, let us look forward!

2015 is off and running (all be it a freezing trot) and what a better time for New Year goals and resolutions?

Now, there are your standard resolutions of working out more and cutting back on the sweets, but those, although a good idea, aren’t particularly fun, am I right?

Why not make a fun list of resolutions you want to complete, and there are a lot of great resolutions to make as a beer lover.

So let’s kick off 2015 right, and with a bang!  Adding any of these resolutions to your list will be sure to make 2015 a great year.

1)  Host a craft beer party, head to your local liquor store or brewery and grab some great craft beer, invite some of your raddest friends, and enjoy!  Simple as that, and sure to be both a fun and delicious time.

2) Introduce someone to craft beer, because everyone needs to experience the greatness that is craft beer!

3) Attend a craft beer festival or event, all beer lovers need to go to one at some point, so why not this year!  There are amazing craft beer festivals going on year round all across the US. Check local listings for beer events, or head to the fabulous Craft Beer Events page to plan!

4) Cook with beer, because it tastes amazing, and all beer lovers should embrace the wonderful bond of food and beer

5) Try a new beer every month, there are an unbelievable amount of delicious beers out there, branch out and try a new beer every month and by the end of the year you will have tried 12 new ones!

6) Take a brewery tour, whether you have been on several, or a newbie, head to a brewery and take a tour. They are always fun, always informative, and always get a taste of their beers at the end of the tour – complete package!

7) Plan a beer trip, no matter where you live there is good beer around, but what about elsewhere?  Both within the US and around the world there are some great places to check out beer, so plan a trip to check them out!  Can be headed to a famous beer bar, or a brewery you love, a great way to combine traveling with your love of beer.

8) Read a beer book, could be to  learn more about beer making, to learn new recipes, or just to learn more about beer, a book is a great way to expand your love and knowledge of beer.

9) Give the gift of beer,  because who doesn’t love to get a tastey beer? Plus it spread the love of great beer!

10) Make beer, what better way to flex your beer love muscles that making your own!  If you’ve never brewed beer you will grow to love beer even more, or if you are a veteran in making beer, brew something new or make beer with someone who never has!  Beer making kits are easy to come by and are inexpensive, and this is a fabulous resolution to make.

There are more beer related resolutions to make of course, but these should all make your 2015 a little better, and include more beer in your life, which of course is never a bad thing!

Have a beer related resolution you are planning to make? Share so others can put it on their list!

Craft Beer Gift Guide!

It’s that wonderful time of year again!

Jack Frost nipping at the nose, breaking out the winter time activity gear, and holiday hoopla galore!

Well, we have one way to make your holiday life easier – a Craft Beer Gift Guide for the craft beer lover in your life (including yourself!)

From books to apparel, you won’t be short of ideas this holiday season!

Books:

  • Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher: Learn the different types of ingredients and brewing techniques that make up brewing a wide range of beers.
  • Subscription to a craft beer magazine: There are a lot of great craft beer magazines out there from the newbie craft beer lover to the expert
  • State Brewing Guides: Great guide to the breweries to travel to in each state. Great for the beer lover who loves to travel!
  • The Craft Beer Revolution by Steve Hindy: Learn about the history of the craft beer revolution that challenged the big beer brands, and launched the rise of the craft beer industry we see today.
  • The Complete Beer Course by Joshua M. Bernstein: This book demystifies brews for the beer drinker, and helps readers learn about the different beer styles and flavors, and how to spot the better brews from others to steer clear of.
  • Beerology by Mirella Amato: Learn all the ins and outs about beer!
  • American Craft Beer Cookbook by John Holl: Craft beer and food! Is there a better combo?

Apparel:

Tech:

General Beer Goodies:

  • Beer Nerd: A Beer Tasting Trivia Game: Test your knowledge of beer! And win bragging rights among your friends
  • Pint Glass Gift Set: What beer lover isn’t in need of great pint glasses? Check online for box sets, or local breweries also often have pint glasses on sale – head to a few to make a set and enjoy a local brew in the process!
  • GrowlerTap: Turn your growler into a mini-keg to enjoy your brews more easily!
  • Hombrewing Kits: A must have for any beer lover, and craft beer newbie. Many local stores carry beer making kits or search online for the right kit.
  • Craft Beer Poster
  • Craft Beer Calendar
  • Tickets to a local beer festival: There are several year round craft beer festivals around the nation, all of which are great, and a fabulous way to enjoy a pint and try new brews.

On Pinterest?  There is a whole page dedicated to Craft Beer Gift Guide pins, and a fantastic place to learn of new gift ideas for the beer lover on your shopping list.

Regardless of what you choose, enjoy on giving the gift of beer!

Happy Holidays!

GABF 2014 Reflection: Competition With A Capital C!

By Dan Kahn

I recently had the honor and pleasure of judging at the GABF again this year.  I have had a lot of brewers ask about the judging process and wonder what exactly happens to their beers when they are entered, so I thought it might be helpful to write a little about my experiences as a judge.

After starting to attend the GABF as a brewer and entrant about 20 years ago, and beginning to judge at it a dozen years ago, the growth and changes What I have witnessed have been amazing. With about 5700 entries in the competition, even with 90 categories there are over 60 entries per category on average.  The largest category, American India Pale Ale, had 279 entries.  That’s a lot of beers to be competing against!  With this many beers entered, there is no question that every beer that wins a medal is a top quality beer that deserves a medal.  However, not every really good beer wins a medal, which can be frustrating to a lot of brewers making excellent beer.

So, for brewers that are hoping to increase their chances to medal, a few observations and words of advice:

  1. Have lots of people taste your beer, and train your tasters. Most categories have at least 3 rounds of tasting, usually with 9-12 beers in each flight for groups of 3 or 4 judges.  The goal in each of the early rounds is to select the 3 best beers to pass forward to the next round.  The easiest way to whittle down to those 3 is get rid of the beers with obvious flaws.  Keep in mind that obvious flaws have a different threshold at a table full of judges than at a taproom, but also that different people, even trained tasters, have different taste thresholds for specific flavors.  This is why it is critical to have multiple tasters provide feedback for your beer.  You may be highly sensitive to diacetyl, and less so to DMS, for example, but if any one of the judges at a table picks up a significant flaw, that beer goes out.  By the time any beer goes through 3 or 4 rounds of judging, it’s going to have to pass judges that are sensitive to anything, essentially.

Want to give your tastebuds a workout? Head to the Food and Wine guide on how to become a better beer taster.

  1. Pay close attention to the style guidelines.Years ago, it was often thought that beers did better in competitions by being more dramatic, pushing the boundaries of styles, that just being stronger, hoppier and more intense would automatically make more of an impression.  If that ever was true, it certainly isn’t any more.  For one thing, there are so many more styles now, especially for stronger beers, that there really is no excuse for having an entry too big for its category.  I saw number of entries rejected for being “too hoppy for the style,” so if the guidelines limit a given flavor to “low,” make sure your beer reflects that.  That said, the guidelines don’t cover every conceivable combination of ingredients and process, and there can still be well balanced and enjoyable beers that don’t quite fit any of the styles well.  There is no reason that every beer you make has to be for competition; just don’t expect an entry to do well in a traditional category unless it fits the description.
  1. Aside from avoiding mistakes and staying within the parameters, give the beers depth of flavor, balance and interest. There are more beers than ever before, and they are better than ever, too.  This is the first year I have had multiple first round flights where every single beer (out of 10 or 11) was pretty good, and nothing was obviously sour, buttery or oxidized.  Once a beer gets out of the first round, there is probably a couple more rounds to go through to get to medals, each time being compared to other beers that were among the best 3 in their flight.  It used to be that entering a well made beer would almost guarantee getting passed into the second round at least, but I saw some first round flights where there really were more than 3 beers that were truly quite good. In order to stand out among a flight full of quality beers, beers do need layers of flavor.  Even among light bodied styles, malt flavor can be smooth, crisp and apparent.  Even in styles with low bitterness, multiple hop varieties and additions can provide complexity, freshness and depth.  Use balance and nuance to make beers memorable.

And of course, if you are lucky enough to be able to attend, give yourself the chance to taste a lot of other beers, see what other people are doing with new and traditional styles!

It is a fun event with lots of learning opportunities as well.

And if you do have suggestions for any changes to make in the festival itself, or specific style guidelines, let the Brewers Association know. We are privileged as an industry to have such a responsive professional organization to work with, so make sure you take advantage of that.

Cheers!

Women & Craft Brewing: A Growing Force!

There is no denying that the craft beer industry is booming, and now more than ever craft beer is becoming more than just a bearded boys club, but women are continuing to make their presence known as consumers, as brewers, and as executives.

Long ago are the days where beer was a mans drink, and women were side-lined as casual dabblers of beer or only consumers of only fruity alcoholic drinks, but are getting their hands hop deep in the craft movement and their voices are being heard. as well as changing perceptions and trends along the way.

Women have always drank beer, but the numbers are showing an increase of female beer drinkers. Let’s break down women’s presence as beer lovers with numbers and science!

  • 26% of women named beer as their favorite alcoholic beverage in 2013, versus 24% in 2012
  • Women drink 25% of all beer by volume in the USA, and
  • Women make up 37% of craft beer drinkers

There is no denying it, women like their beer. And specifically, love their craft beer.

Women are seemingly drawn to the craft beer industry more than their bigger production counterparts, which could be the case for numerous reasons, but one may be the versatility of brands and products amongst craft beer, as well as the ability for women to get involved at the grassroots level of the craft brewing industry.

As numerous new breweries are popping up all over the country, you are seeing more than ever that it isn’t just men going to pick up a home brewing kit, or helping formulate a new brewery on the business side.  Even though only 1% (approximate) of those employed in the craft beer industry are women, women are finding that they want a career in the craft industry and are applying their talents where they can in the business. Whether that be with administrative tasks, financial, or marketing, owning the brewery itself, or being the master brewer, women are being seen more– and the numbers are growing.

Groups and organizations have popped up to aid female brewing professionals, including Pink Books Society, which was created to empower women who are beer professional advance their careers within the industry. Social groups such as Barley’s Angels and Girls Pint Out were formed to bring women together to drink a variety of craft beers and encourage women’s love of beer with other women.

It is also great to see women being supported by all corners of the industry, from hop growers to consulting firms, including your very own MBEC. Minnetonka Brewing & Equipment Company was proud to be involved with helping St. Paul, MN brewery Urban Growler, the first female owned and brewed brewery in Minnesota, make their dream a reality.  Running their business with both men and women patrons in mind, breweries with a female presence are helping shape the future of the industry.

Although the beer industry is still predominantly populated by men, it is clear that women are making their mark. It is great to see women popping up more and more at craft beer events, in the board room, and making great beer whether that be at home or at a production level. Check out the article 10 Amazing women In Craft Beer You Should Know and Follow to see where women have made their mark in the industry, and how others are following in their footsteps.

Prost, ladies!

Fun Fact! did you know that women were the first brewers? They sure were! Egyptian and Sumerian women brewed the first beers, and there were actually laws prohibiting men from brewing beer.

Resources:

10 Amazing Women in Craft Beer You Should Know and Follow – http://drinkwiththewench.com/2012/04/10-amazing-women-in-craft-beer-you-should-know-and-follow/

Pink Boots Society – http://pinkbootssociety.org/

On Gender and Beer: Why Do We Think Men Are from Ales, Women Are from Lagers? – http://thisiswhyimdrunk.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/on-gender-and-beer-why-do-we-think-men-are-from-ales-women-are-from-lagers/

More women getting into craft beer, not just as drinkers but also as brewers  – http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/women-moving-craft-beer-brewing-article-1.1522304

Women changing the ‘boys club’ nature of craft brew businesses – http://swmichigan.secondwavemedia.com/features/Women-changing-the-boys-club-nature-of-craft-brew-businesses-0424.aspx

Beer Health Benefits!

For centuries people have indulged in the grand beverage known as beer, and beer has gotten a bad reputation over the years. Well, no more to that thinking, feel free to knock back a cold one guilt free, because beer has many health benefits that may surprise you!  Beer is loaded with minerals, anti-oxidants, and several other components that can  lower your heart disease risk, improve brain health, help your immune system, in addition to several other benefits.

In this blog we cover for you the first 6, out of 12, surprising health benefits of beer, so read on because been knowledge is power!

  1. Beer Health BenefitsHealthier Kidneys

Based on a study performed in Finland, for each bottle of beer drank by men daily, their risk of developing kidney stones lowered by 40%. Why? Well there is still speculation for the exact cause/effect relation, but one thought is that the water content in beer helps maintain hydration, as well as hops providing a slower release of calcium from bone, which can be reabsorbed as stones in the kidneys.

  1. Stronger Bones

Beer may not make you Wolverine, but several research institutes and facilities, including Tufts University, found that those who had 1 or 2 drinks daily had higher bone density.  Beer contains high levels of silicon, which aids bone health. Before you go drowning in beer to make your bones stronger, having more than 2 drinks daily has been linked to an increased risk of fractures – so stick to 1 or 2!

  1. Boost Brain Health

Beer may not make you a genius (if only!), but a 2005 study found that older women who were moderate drinkers (1 drink a day) lowered their risk of mental decline by as much as 20% when compared to non-drinkers.

  1. Have a Stronger Heart

Consuming a beer or two a day can help elevate levels of HDL, the good cholesterol that helps keep arteries clean and clog-free.  According to a Harvard study, studies have shown that drinking moderately lowers your risk of heart attacks and dying from cardiovascular disease by 25-40%. However, drinking high quantity amounts of alcohol can cause your risk of heart disease to increase, so again, moderation is key.

  1. Reduce Type 2 Diabetes Risk

A study of 38,000 men found that when they began consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, their risk for developing type 2 diabetes dropped by 25%. Researchers found that alcohol can increase insulin sensitivity, which helps in protecting against diabetes.

  1. Boost Vitamin Levels

Beer has many ingredients and minerals, and now, because of a Dutch study, it’s been found that the beer drinking participants of the study had 30% higher levels of vitamin B6 levels versus their non-drinking counterparts.  Beer also contains B12 and Folic acid, so drink up and giver your body a boost at the same time!

SOURCE:

Men’s Health – 10 Reasons to Have a Beer RIGHT NOW! by Kristen Domonell

Yahoo! – 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer by Lisa Collier Cool

This blog is the first in a 2-part series. Stay tuned until next month for the rest of the list, and find out more ways beer is healthy for you! 

Safety First!

Brewing is a tough, fun, and, although we don’t want to think about it, a dangerous business.  Dusts and particles can be flying everywhere, fluids spraying around, and you are working with large mechanical equipment – Things can go wrong very quickly, which is why safety should be a key component to any brewery.

Can Never Be To Safe!

Establishing a strong safety environment and procedure within your brewery isn’t only great for your brewery and employees, but it will create a better craft beer industry in whole.

There are many components to making a stronger safety environment within a brewery, and creating a better ‘Safety-Culture’ (as described in the Brewer Association’s New Brewery Safety issue that was released last year)    whether you are a brewery that has been around for years, or just opening your doors, is a critical part of being a strong operational brewery.  Remember, Safety first, then comes the fun!

Find your benchmark, aim higher

What are your safety regulations now? What could you do to make your brewery a model for brewery safety? Set a benchmark and aim higher for how safety is addressed, performed, and talked about in your brewery.

  • Enforce Cleanliness and Organization
  • Designate a brewery safety coordinator
  • Ensure your brewery is compliant with state and federal regulations
  • Form a safety board
  • Create prevention through the design of your facility
  • Identify critical employee behavior and create self-responsibility
  • Take a trip to other breweries, see what they do and how you can reach that level of safety
  • Identify employees who can set the stage of model safety behavior, and influence others to do the same

One Safe Does Not Fit All

For each portion of the brewing process, there are different safety concerns that may need to be addressed.  Be sure to walk through each process you perform, and create a procedure on how to do it safely.  Make sure the procedures are in a place that all employees can see or read, and make sure people know where they can go to ask for questions or demonstrations.  You may have your own safety measures, so just because someone performed something one way somewhere else does not mean they will know how to do the same at your brewery.  See someone doing something wrong or right? Ensure to talk to employees about something they should improve on, or something to exemplify so everyone on your teams is on the up and up.

Cleaning, Cleaning, Oh MY!

One area in particular to pay attention to how safety is addressed is cleaning.  Numerous areas and equipment of a brewery need to be cleaned, do you know how to do it safely?  There are confined spaces, chemicals used, and it can be a matter of life or death (don’t want to be to strict or harsh, but it’s true) if safety measures are not intact before performing any cleaning act.  Be sure know how to clean your brewery properly, and safely, so you can keep your brewery chugging along smoothly.

 

Safety is something quite important, so don’t feel you can take it to seriously. Changing your outlook and behavior in a brewery when it comes to safety can be tough at first, or can cause some confusion, but don’t be afraid to reach out to informative materials or people to ensure you are doing everything you should to keep your brewery safe for all you come in contact with it.

So, go forth and brew safely!

Resources:

BA: Material Safety Data Sheets – For all your safety regulation needs

Brewery Safety Courses.  This is just one, there are more out there, so don’t be afraid to do some research, or hire someone to come to your brewery for safety demonstrations

 

References:

The New brewer. January/February 2013, Vol.30, No.1. 46-74. Print